Week in Review of Small Press Crime Fiction for July 31 – Aug 6, 2017
I started writing reviews of crime fiction books as a memory device for myself, books I liked, books I didn’t like. Surprisingly, what I found was that the crime fiction community from the writers to the readers are welcoming and supportive. J.J. Hensley wrote Know Your Enemy in The Thrill Begins that talks about how supportive the community is rather than cut-throat and vindictive.
It is impossible for most writers to consider other writers the competition when we have so much in common with each other. As a group, we have a set of shared goals, shared frustrations, as well as shared stories of disappointment and achievement. Not to mention, when we have driven our spouses completely crazy by talking about writing, we can turn to each other, knowing writers can rarely drive each other crazy since most of us have taken that drive and are still roaring toward the cliff like Thelma and Louise (for the younger writers out there – Google that reference).
Hensley’s new book Bolt Action Remedy (Down & Out Books) will be out in a few months.
In one of the feel good stories from this past week, Beau Johnson opened a box that contained his new book A Better Kind of Hate from Down & Out Books. He wrote on Facebook:
In my 30 years in the grocery biz I have opened many boxes. Thousands upon thousands to be sure. I can honestly say I have never opened one quite like this.
The sad news of the week was the passing of Sam Shepard. In the NY Times obituary, it was said of his writing “That feeling of uncertainty was translated into dialogue of an uncommon lyricism and some of the strangest, strongest images in American theater.” Over at LitHub, they published a few letters from Two Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark by Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark.
Some other articles that are worth your while are Danny Gardner on how word count constraints can help in Standards and Practices, Jochem Vandersteem’s interview with Sam Weibe over at Son of Spade, and S.W. Lauden’s interview with Elaine Ash regarding her book Bestseller Metrics. And if you have some time, take listen to Fank Zafiro’s podcast Wrong Place, Write Crime where he interviews Sarah M. Chen.
Quite a few new books and anthologies came out this week.. First and foremost, let me give some love to a new release from Shotgun Honey, one of my favorite publishers. This month they released the first book by DeLeon DeMicoli, Les Cannibales. Like all of their books, I’m expecting it to be great. Oceanview Publishing, who I know of from reading Joe Clifford, released Danny López’ The Last Girl. One of the blurbs calls it “a boozy, hardboiled trek through the sun-drenched streets of Sarasota Florida.” And it’s going for .99¢. Florda? Hard-boiled? Under a buck? Go buy it now.
Bloodhound released Sharon Dempsey’s Little Bird and M.A. Comley’s Double Jeopardy while Fahrenheit Press put together all four of Grant Nicol’s Grímur Karlsson Mysteries in Tales From The Ice House. A couple of anthologies is a new Akashic Noir, Atlanta Noir edited by Tayari Jones, and Carolina Crimes: 21 Tales of Need, Greed and Dirty Deeds edited by Nora Gaskin Esthimer published by Down & Out Books. Bruin Crimeworks reprinted two works from James Hadley Chase, No Orchid for Miss Blandish and Flesh of the Orchid.
From the bigger publishers released this week are Adam Sternbergh’s The Blinds and Augustus Rose’s Readymade Thief. And the new James Patterson release this week is the bookshot The Medical Examiner: A Women’s Murder Club Story by Patterson and Maxine Paetro.
If you follow Jim Thomsen on social media (Facebook or Twitter) you know he’s been trying to get published in Shotgun Honey for several months, five rejections and counting. And if you follow him, you also know he finally got a story published, Hell of a Girl and if was well worth the fucking wait. He also put up an extended version of the story up on his website, 1,108 words instead of the 700 for Shotgun Honey. Two other stories to check out are Emmett Dulaney’s Like a Kid in a Candy Store in Spelk and Angel Luis Cólon’s Last Call over at Beat to a Pulp.
This past week I reviewed Jason Pinter’s The Castle, Tom Leins’ Skull Meat, and Court Merrigan’s The Broken Country. I wrote that Merrigan had “created something unique and original.” Vicki Weisfeld reviews The Place of Refuge by Albert Tucher and LA Review of Books has a review of Tomoyuki Hoshino’s ME. Steve Weddle’s Do Some Damage review of Marcus Sakey’s Afterlife is a thing of beauty. Weddle writes:
Then not too much later, we get a guy cop and a gal cop doing sexxxy time on each other. I believe the record will show that I’m no prude. But, you know, I’m not terribly fond of reading about two people doing sex to each other. I don’t much care for detailed, play-by-play fisticuffs, either. I tend to skip along to the dialog. Also, I skip over anything too technical, such as a 250-word description of a timing mechanism someone might drop into a thriller. Gracious, is there anything I don’t skip over?
Well, I didn’t skip AFTERLIFE, that’s for sure. Because it moves. Because I care about the characters. Because I’m invested in the story, which gets hella weird.
Here’s an inteview with Joe Clifford on Fox 61 from Hartford, Connecticut. Clifford is the author of Give Up the Dead.